What’s the difference between Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia? It’s a question often asked when a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia. To put it in simple terms dementia is a symptom and Alzheimer’s disease is the cause of the symptom.
Family members and patients are often lead to believe that Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia are not related. When a person is diagnosed with dementia there is often a relief in the patient and in family members because the diagnosis is not Alzheimer’s Disease.
Then one must ask what exactly is the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia?
Dementia is often used to describe a reduction in cognitive ability associated with advanced age. Dementia is not a disease but rather a group of symptoms used to describe difficulties being experienced with memory, language, attention, problem solving, reasoning, planning, organization and judgement.
The most prominent symptom and most noticeable symptom described as dementia is memory difficulty.
Doctors use the term dementia when referring to the cognitive problems being experienced by a person. It means there is something wrong with the persons brain but provides no information on the exact cause of the problem.
Dementia is not a disease but a clinical representation of a disease. Dementia is used to describe symptoms and does not necessarily have to be symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease.
It should be noted that most causes of dementia are not reversible and the most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s Disease.
Dementia is not a diagnosis. People will hear the term “Alzheimer’s related Dementia” or “Probable Alzheimer’s Disease” and consider it a diagnosis.
There is no definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease and such a diagnosis can only be confirmed after death and upon an autopsy. However, when a person shows symptoms such as dementia, it is very likely they are showing signs of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Thus, the difference between Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia lay within describing the symptom or when referring to the disease.